Friday, September 1, 2017


It’s four fifteen and the alarm just went off. I’m supposed to be leaving in thirty minutes, biking over to Johan’s where we’re getting picked up by a cab that is starting at Jon’s place, which will then take us to the airport for a seven am flight to Berlin. And it’s fucking pissing down. Proper fucking biblical proportions of rain hammering the ground. Time for Plan B. Even if it costs more with the extra pickup there’s no way I’m sitting on a plane with my kecks glued to my ass. I call Jon to tell him to pick me up on the way but the fucker doesn’t answer. Strange, not like him. I try again, and again, before I start getting a bit worried. His phone just keeps ringing. I know he usually sleeps pretty hard but he’s always bang on when he has the responsibility of first call. I call Johan and then the next thing Ana, Jon’s girlfriend, is texting me asking if I’ve heard from him. She’s in Holland picking up a van for some band and Jon had asked her to call and wake him, which takes the piss in it’s own right, but the sod not sleeping through now three of us ringing him is another matter altogether. Eventually his phone just dies and with not much else to do, I call another cab and Johan and I head out to Arlanda to meet Andy who’s taken the bus.

The three of us check in, we have Jon’s guitar with us and the guy at the desk let’s us check it in too. Would have been a major pain in the balls to have to leave Jon’s guitar at the airport, even if it is ugly. Already stressed for time, we make our way to security and my stomach convulses when I see the size of the queue, snaking it’s way along the entire terminal. Flight is boarding in half hour, we could be in trouble here. Luckily, I bump into some old guy who works at the airport and he tells us to head to Fast Track, which we do, and with that we’re through. I can imagine there are a lot of squeeky arses stood in that queue that we just waltzed past… Andy’s bag gets stopped on the way through and he enquires with the woman what the crack is with the queues, wondering if the machines are down or something. “It’s always like this on Thursdays”, she matter of factly replies. Note for future reference.

Whilst on route down to Berlin Jon texts us on Messenger, completely engulfed in panic and anxiety. Tells us he slept in. No shit. He’s frantically texting and then it’s him, we’re on the plane already. He asks us if he should book a new flight, I tell him I think that’s good idea. Poor bugger, I can only imagine the horror of waking up and realising your band mates are already up in the air. To his credit, he books himself on the next flight and we tell him we’ll wait for him at the airport. Only thing is he’s flying to the other place, Tegel, so we have to pick up the rental car and head over there, which is on the total opposite of the city and not the direction we’re going.

We had grand plans of arriving in Weimar today and spending the afternoon checking the place out, by all accounts it’s a very picturesque little town with lots of sightseeing opportunities, lots of museums etc, like the Nietzsche and Göthe museums, Franz Liszt school amongst them, but it’s looking like those plans are now fucked. Thing is, you can’t really be hard on Jon, he’s taking care of that himself. And the main thing is, after he royally fucked up, he got on with things. As long as the cunt doesn’t climb into the car stinking of booze we’ll go easy on him.

Jon arrives around one, we’ve been sat there for about an hour and a half. He’s pretty emotional but doesn’t seem to be hungover. He says he can’t understand how he slept through all his alarm clocks, and that he’d spoken to Ana at three am and asked her to wake him. Now I’m confused… I ask him if he woke up at three and spoke to Ana. No he tells me, he went to bed at three, he’d been to the Viagra Boys show. Unbelievable. That was a pretty expensive little lie in he had...

After first getting sucked into Berlin city by the rental car’s very confused GPS and then a couple of traffic jams on the old autobahn, we get in to Weimar around seven pm. Fucking knackered and dying for a cup of java. The place looks great anyway, an old squat with a bar and a small room in the back with a tight stage, looks like our very own Kafe 44 back home. There are already a bunch of punks outside who look happy to see us, if not a little shocked by the flashy car we’ve just rocked up in. I have to explain that it’s not ours. An older guy, with a very friendly smile on his coupon shakes my hand and tells me he’s the promoter for tonight. I don’t catch his name at first and have to ask him again, it’s Crustfrosch apparently. I ask him one more time, and he repeats again, “It means Crust Frog”. I like him immediately. We lug the gear in, which isn’t much, since we’re playing with a band called Ekranoplan both tonight and tomorrow in Berlin and they’ve been kind enough to lend us their backline. The mug of coffee is welcomely received and I gulp into it with vigour, only to be shocked by a mouthful or powder. I forgot about the old east european way of making coffee. Once the powder sinks to the bottom the coffee flies down the hatch and I’m feeling better.

The Ekranoplan guys arrive and we help them with the gear. The first guy I meet is wearing a Regimes t-shirt. “I like your shirt! That’s one of my best mates bands”. “Yes, Bloody Kev. Great guy,” he says. “Raging Speedhorn,” he continues. I smirk to myself, thinking about how Kev would be gutted to hear that’s the first band the guy associated with him. The guys in Ekranoplan seem like a really friendly bunch, and they’re very helpful with sorting their gear out for us, setting it all up for us to soundcheck. The bass player, a cheeky looking type, says it’s a big honour to play with us. Another guy from the squat is talking to Jon, asking us if we had a driver with us, and when Jon says that we’re driving ourselves the guy seems surprised. He then tells him he can’t believe we’re playing a place this small. I think he has the wrong impression of us.

Adrian from Ekranoplan is helping us out during soundcheck, guiding us through it, since old Froggy who is doing the sound seems to be looking at his phone more than the mixing desk. Every time we speak to him, he simply gives us a friendly smile. Anyway, it sounds good by the time we’re done. Adrian’s amp I’m lending is a Russian tank of a thing, called a Petersburg. Never heard of them before but it sounds great. After soundcheck we tuck into the food one of the punks from the squat has made for us, and it’s banging! Really good thai style potato and zucchini soup. I’m feeling so much better now, despite the tiredness. We set the merch up and people start buying straight away, Jon gets stuck there with it but he seems happy enough so the three of us head off for a stroll around Weimar. It really is a beautiful little town, and there seems to be some culture festival going on. We come across some beer garden, really cosy, and there is some three piece instrumental band who sound like a cross between Mogwai and Trans Am playing to a half interested spattering of spectators. We head inside and grab a seat. I still have to move the car to the parking place later but I’m happy enough to stay whilst Johan and Andy have a pint and watch the band for a bit. I’m making a new habit of not drinking before shows anyway, not drinking too much afterwards and all for that matter. The band are really good and it’s so nice to sit here and chill out, listening to something completely different for a bit before we head back to the squat.

We get back just as Ekranoplan have started playing but you can’t get in through the door to the small gig room, which is a good sign. I give it a try but can feel the heat of the place just from the small doorway and decide to leave it. I watch for a bit and then decide to go move the car. One of the squatters comes along with me and we walk back through town once the car is parked up and he tells me all about life in Weimar. I didn’t really know much about it before bar the connection with the old Weimar Republic and it being the place where Nietzsche died. It seems like there is a lot of art and culture happening here though. Cool place.

I get back to the squat and hang out at the merch table with Jon and some others, drinking bubbly water and munching away on Erdnuss Flips, which are a German joy to the tastebuds, like little peanut butter Wotsits. I’d asked Adrian earlier if I could lend his guitar as backup as I had planned to restring mine earlier but arriving late didn’t have the time. He has a nice Les Paul Studio he’s only too happy to lend me. I tell him that I’m sure having it there as a backup will safeguard me breaking any strings during the gig.

Andy asks Frog if he can get a beer somewhere and Frog runs off, returning shortly with a crate of beer. Andy looks at me and laughs, “Typical Germany, you ask for one beer and you get given a crate”. Besides that, there are already two full crates stacked up behind the merch tables which we hadn’t even seen. The thing is, they’re a little on the tepid side and I’m really hoping for a cold beer after we’re done playing. I try to ask Frog if the band flat upstairs where we’re sleeping has a fridge, but the language barrier is a little tough since he’s a little drunk and finds the English, at least my joke of an accent, a little tough. I’m holding a crate of beer in my hands and motioning to upstairs. Froggy nods and says, “Ok, yeah it’s fine” but he looks a little put out. I head upstairs with the crate but find no fridge to put them in. And then I realise that Frog must have thought that I wanted to take a crate to hamster away from the other bands. I feel like a right twat. I head back downstairs with the crate again and find Frog looking really confused now. Jon tells me what the German is for fridge and then Froggy twigs on, “Ahhh, no it’s ok, you can just take a bottle and swap it for a cold one from the bar later”.

The gig room is packed and moist with sweat as we start the show with Death Do Us Part. As it happens, a fucking string goes during the first verse of the first song… there is a bit of a break whilst I swap guitar and straps before we start the second song. I’d thought that I would have just put up with having the guitar higher up if I’d broke a string near the end of the set but there’s no way I can do a whole set playing like Bob Marley. A minute or so later I’m ready to go and we get back on with things. The stage is really tight and it’s hard to keep your feet at times, especially when the punks fall on to the stage every now and again. The atmosphere is great and it sounds banging on stage. It’s all going well, although I’m a little wary of breaking another string so hold back slightly, that and my back is twinging a bit. And then at one point I puke a bit of Erdnuss flip in my mouth. Not the most rock n’ roll way to go.. And then Jon breaks a string in the middle of the set. It’s really dark on his side of the stage and he doesn’t have any spare strings but Adrian has a bunch so whilst they fart around sorting that, and then Jon stands in the light in the middle of the stage restringing his guitar I start playing a couple of doomy notes whilst the sweat drips from my forehead and nose. Johan and Andy join in and we strum along for what feels like five minutes. When Jon is finally sorted he says, “This song appropriately is called We’re Fucked” and the crowd erupts.

I like the set we have at the minute. The front end of the set is speckled with songs from the latest albums and then a couple of brand new songs from the new album we haven’t recorded yet. But we end with five or six classics from the early records and it feels like the set ends with a real burst of energy, both from the crowd and us. When we finish with This is the End a bunch of punks jump up onto the tiny stage and take over the vocals for the chorus, Johan taking a step back with a big smile on his face. Great feeling. The punks won’t let us leave the stage when we’re done and so we stay up for one more. Jon thanks the crowd dearly and then says, “This is our Wind of Change”, before going into the guitar intro of Killing. It’s a great way to end things. And the punks let us leave when we’re done this time.

Jon heads straight to the merch table whilst we pack up. Andy looks chuffed as fuck, “I’ve been thinking a few times during this long fucking day, thinking it’s not worth it, but then you play a gig like that and you remember exactly why we’re doing this”. I couldn’t agree more. We sit around on the stage chatting to a few punks for a while and then Froggy arrives with an ice bucket and a couple of bottles of bright green booze called Peppe, or something. It’s alcoholic mouth wash basically. Apparently we “have” to drink it. I don’t want to be rude but this is not the cold after beer gig I’ve been looking forward to all night. But what the hell, when in Weimar. I only have the one though. Andy and Johan are up for a second though, and a third.

We hang out in the bar for a couple of hours afterwards, the place is still pretty full and there’s loads of chat and banter. My friend and neighbour Johan Walin had told me in the week that he’d played at this squat with both Bombstrike and General Surgery and that it was a pretty cool place. I’m chatting to Frog who keeps looking at me with a drunk smile on his face and asking me if we had a good time and then wrapping his arm around my shoulder. I tell him my friend from home played here, must have been around 2006 or so. “Bombstrike?” Frog guesses immediately. Yeah! I say, “Very crazy people..” Frog smiles. I’ve never really known Walin as crazy… I’ll have to ask him what that was all about when I get home.

It’s one am and two bottles of Weimar’s finest when the gig high starts wearing off and tiredness starts hitting like a brick wall. I can see Johan is flaking too, he’s had a few glasses of the mouthwash booze and all. Originally we were supposed to sleep somewhere else but having heard about the band flat upstairs I’d told Frog we’d like to sleep here, which was fine. The Rock n’ Roll flat Frog called it. It looks like a hundred other sleeping rooms we’ve slept in at squats all over Europe. Bunk beds and dirty wooden floors. I’m glad we’re staying here though, otherwise we’d have run the risk of being kept up listening to loud crust music with drunk punks until the early hours. And I couldn’t have dealt with that tonight, we’ve been on the go for almost twenty four hours as it is.

We head upstairs and I climb into the middle bunk of three. The top bunk is really fucking high up, must be about twelve, thirteen foot or so. Fucking die if you rolled out of that in your sleep. Amazingly, I’m the only one of the four of us who has brought a sleeping bag. The one that Johan and Andy bought me as a birthday present as a laugh earlier this year. Chuffed as fuck with it now. There is definitely a cool draught in the room somewhere. As well as a slight whiff of puke.

No comments:

Post a Comment